Theo Croker

Theo Croker was born in Leesburg, central Florida on July 18, 1985. Leesburg wasn’t exactly a music mecca and Theo was not born with a horn in the hand. After visiting New York City, where his grandfather played at Sweet Basil, he first took one home at the age 11 Doc Cheatham, who was 92 in 1997, died. Theo continued to listen and enjoy Doc’s recordings. Theo states that Doc had an appealing sound and the strength was always in the melody. “I used to just sit in my room and play my trombone for hours, not knowing what I was doing. I learned new notes slowly and would play along to recordings of my grandfather, and other greats. “I noticed that I could fit in with the music harmonically.” He first performed for a jazz-savvy audience at a funeral for his grandfather. Although he was only twelve years old when he first heard the music, the way it touched people and made him feel was enough for him to decide that music was his path. It was what I wanted to do.” Theo, sixteen, moved on his own to Jacksonville, Florida to attend The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. His talent was quickly noticed by others. The Ritz Theatre, a former black cinema house that was converted into a museum and performance space in 2004, made Theo the first artist-in-residence. He was asked to create original music for three groups, a septet and a band of seventeen members, and an 80-member choir called The Ritz Voices. Theo attended a variety of music schools in the United States, but Donald Byrd, the Grammy-winning composer and recording artist, pulled him to Oberlin Conservatory, Ohio. “My father, a Donald Byrd enthusiast, died when I was eighteen. When I was young, I can still remember hearing and seeing his records.” Oberlin also hosted other jazz legends such as Robin Eubanks and Billy Hart. Wednell Logan and Dan Wall were also instructors. “I was tempted to stop studying with teachers when I realized that I could learn with active Jazz musicians. Theo states that this was the right call for him. Theo graduated from Oberlin in 2007. He began his postgraduate studies by hanging out with and playing with older musicians such as Jimmy and Tootie, Billy Hart, Marcus Belgrave, and Benny Powell. They showed me how to live my own life. They taught me how to live my life. Theo is as passionate about jazz as ever. He also produces and writes hip-hop, rap and film scores. Many of the greatest jazz musicians have influenced him, including Doc Cheatham and Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter are just a few of the many composers who have influenced him. Hip hop is another strong influence.

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